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Rev Edmund Chan (left) and Lucas Chow (right) at PraySingapore 2018. "When I was younger and I read 2 Samuel 23:13, I went, 'Wow, three men against the garrison!' Now when I see how great these three men were – one of them against 800 – I can imagine the Philistines going, 'Run, there are three of them!'" said Ps Edmund. Photo courtesy of LoveSingapore.

God has His heart for Singapore. And God has His desire and His work.

I stand convinced that what I’m about to share with you is something the Lord has deposited upon my heart and upon us.

In other words, I come, not because I have to say something, but because there’s something important to be said.

You see, on Good Friday, during my meditation, the Lord led me to an unusual passage for the Holy Week meditation. It is in 2 Samuel 23. And as I considered it, my heart was warmed. The message I was preparing for today’s meeting was laid aside. This is something so urgent, it so filled my heart.

“Yes, God. This is it, this is it!”

Josheb-basshebeth

What do Josheb-basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah have in common?

Josheb-basshebeth was like the ancient Avengers, a superhero. Anyone who met him in battle – that’s the end-game.

In 2 Samuel 23, they were three of David’s mightiest warriors. They were the chiefs of his great 30. They were the military commanders that were extraordinary. Their exploits were legendary, their leadership inspirational. Their names feared, even among the enemies, because their combat prowess was unmatched and unsurpassed.

Let me introduce these guys as the Scripture presents it to us: “These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three. He wielded his spear against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.” (2 Samuel 23:8)

I call this warrior, Josheb-basshebeth, the strongest and the bravest of them all. He was like the ancient Avengers, a superhero. Anyone who met him in battle – that’s the end-game. This is a warrior who is neither intimidated nor afraid of numbers. He fought against the odds and he won.

At one point, the Bible tells us: 800 to one. Can you imagine 800 to one?

He was one man, yet he conquered them all – he won with his spear. So this is a great warrior, not intimidated by the size of the obstacle or the odds. 

That’s a lesson for us: As leaders, we cannot be intimidated because the King is on our side. Because we know the victory is ours when battle is the Lord’s. 

So the question is: Whose battle is this?

If the battle is the Lord’s, the victory is ours in Him.

Eleazer

The second man is Eleazer. He is introduced to us in 2 Samuel 23:9: “And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew.”

The unthinkable happened! They were losing the battle! And it is more tactical, more strategic, to withdraw for the moment. So the trumpet was sounded, the army withdrew.

This guy is the Rocky Balboa of his generation, round after round, he would not give up.

But the Bible tells us that Eleazer ran, he rose, he charged and he stood against the army of the Philistines and struck them, the Bible says, “until his hand was weary”.

And by the end of the battle, “his hand clung to the sword”. They could not loosen the grip; his hand clung to the sword.

I looked at it and learnt: As leaders, we have the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

May we as leaders learn that if the battle is the Lord’s, then we cling to His word. We cling to His promises, we cling to His leading because His word is sure and steadfast.

“His hand clung to the sword”: He would not give up! 

This guy is the Rocky Balboa of his generation, round after round, he would not give up. In the movie Rocky, his mentor, his coach, told him one thing: “When you’re fighting and you’re weary and you are not done, you get up and you tell yourself, one more round! One more round! One more round! 

That was what kept Rocky Balboa going. He stood up and he fought one more round.

This guy stood against overwhelming odds until he was weary and he went one more round toe to toe because he would not give up.

We are servants of the Lord and as fellow leaders here, we cannot give up. We cannot give up the fight. We cannot give up this prayer for revival. We cannot give up believing that God has His agenda for our nation.

God has a destiny for Singapore and Singapore must rise to that destiny. We will not give up!

That’s Eleazer. 

Shammah

The third warrior is Shammah.

The Bible tells us in verse 11: “Next to him was Shammah.” And this guy, he went to a field of lentils, he stood his ground and fought against the Philistines.

If Josheb was a warrior not intimidated by numbers, Eleazer, a warrior who would not give up, then Shammah is the warrior who took his stand and stood his ground.

We need leaders like them in Singapore – to take a stand and to stand our ground.

These were men who had mighty exploits. Shammah would not give up the last ground. He stood the ground until it was gained.

Sharma is the warrior who stood his ground. We need leaders like that in Singapore – to take a stand and stand our ground.

These were three of David’s outstanding commanders. They were strong. They were fearless. They were victorious.

And yet, 2 Samuel 23 highlighted something else that made them true heroes.

It is not their individual exploits that mattered most. In the narrative, there is a subversive twist. It’s like the person recording it through the Holy Spirit says: “I want to tell you about three of the mightiest – these were their individual exploits. But it’s not this that made them true heroes, there is something else!”

So right in the context, we find there is something else in the narrative that made them truly great. It’s the story that follows, not their individual exploits, in verse 13:

“The 30 men came down with David to do the cave of Adullam, and there the band of Philistines were encamped in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in the stronghold, the garrison of the Philistines were in Bethlehem. David said longingly, ‘Oh, if only someone will bring me a drink of the water from the well in Bethlehem.’ “

These three mighty men looked at each other and nodded. Without a word, they stood in rows and charged the garrison.

When I was younger and I read that, I went: “Wow, three men against the garrison! They were very brave.”

Now I think the reverse – when I saw how great these three men were – one of them against 800 – I can imagine the Philistines going: “Run, there are three of them! There are three of them!”

Three of the mightiest

You see, here’s the point that the Lord laid upon my heart on Good Friday: By individual exploits they were mighty. But that wasn’t defining for them; that was not defining the greatness.

Their true greatness was the day when the three stood together!

Their true greatness was not their individual exploits. Their true greatness was when they came out, and they fought shoulder to shoulder. When the three came together.

Their true greatness was the day when the three stood together!

Here’s the point: It was not their individual exploits that mattered, it was not the fact simply that they fought together – there was something else!

It was their character that defined them. Their fighting together was not a highlight.

It is one thing that caused them to fight together: They were loyal to their king.

We are defined by our loyalty to the King.

And this is what we need in the Celebration of Hope. That we rise together, not because we are doing a great exploit, not because we have a great harvest, not because we have a national initiative, but that we will rise together because we are defined by our loyalty to the King.

It is not just the grace of the King which is manifest, or the goodness of the King which is glorious, it is the glory of the King, the glory of His grace, the glory of His goodness, the glory of His salvation, the glory that must fill the ends of the earth! 

God is zealous for His glory!

And we come to say: Lord help us in that loyalty.

Rev Edmund Chan: What will it take to stay loyal to our King?

This is Part 1 of a devotional shared by Ps Edmund Chan on April 30 at a Celebration of Hope pastors’ gathering. Click here to read Part 2. Celebration of Hope is a three-day evangelistic event on May 17-19 at the National Stadium. Visit celebrationofhope.sg for more information.

About the author

Rev Edmund Chan

Reverend Edmund Chan is a seasoned disciple-making pastor. The Leadership Mentor in Covenant Evangelical Free Church and founder of the Global Alliance of Intentional Disciple Making Churches, Ps Edmund is widely regarded as an insightful Bible expositor and a wise mentor of Christian leaders. In 1995, he launched the annual Intentional Disciple Making Church (IDMC) Conferences. He also serves on the advisory councils of several Christian organisations.